Halfway through 2021, A&W has already awarded eight new units and received commitment for 14 new restaurants, putting the brand on track to reach its 2021 franchise sales goal of 20 new restaurants by the end of the year.
“Our development team and our dedicated franchisees did a great job facing the challenges of the pandemic and seeing exceptional growth despite all of the uncertainty COVID-19 brought to the restaurant industry,” says Kevin Bazner, CEO of A&W. “We’ve seen tremendous growth over the past year alone because of our commitment to seeing our franchisees succeed.”
That growth includes welcoming four new franchisees into the brand’s system in Q2, as well as celebrating four existing franchisees’ decisions to expand with the brand and invest in another location.
The brand’s success thus far in 2021 comes after an equally successful 2020, when A&W managed to post a 10 percent comp sales increase for the second year in a row — during one of the most trying times in modern history.
So how has the 102-year-old brand managed to stay on top?
According to Liz Bazner, senior director of marketing for A&W, the brand’s success is due in part to its ability to appeal to multiple generations. “A&W offers a shared experience of different moments in time,” she said. “And younger generations are discovering that about our brand. We offer an authentic experience and a piece of American history.”
That multi-generational appeal has led the brand to see a 33 percent growth compared to 2011, and A&W shows no signs of slowing down its growth. At the end of July, A&W has a total of 308 leads, with 35 of those in the Director Call status, meaning those leads are moving in a promising direction through the pipeline.
“We’ve experienced a strong start to the year, and our goal is to continue growing,” says John Palumbo, senior director of franchise development for the brand. “We’re now prioritizing our standalone drive-thru model, which saw a 14 percent increase in average unit volume in 2020. We’re excited to see so much growth potential in 2021.”